Josef Hoffmann (1870-1956)

Austrian architect and designer Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann was important in the early development of Modern Architecture in Europe. He possessed an unmistakable minimal style and pioneered the Arts and Crafts movement of the 1900s.

A portrait of Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann.
Josef Franz Maria Hoffmann

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About His Life

Together with Gustav Klimt and Koloman Moser, Hoffman led the way for the Vienna Secession, which was a movement aimed to move away from Historicism. The ideals of the Vienna Secession eventually led Hoffmann to found the Wiener Werkstätte in 1903.

Using Gesamtkunstwerk (meaning the total work of art) as a mission statement, the Wiener Werkstätte sought to incorporate all elements of life into a single cohesive composition, unifying the architecture and interior design.

Josef Hoffmann, Palais Stoclet, Vorprojekt, 1911.
Palais Stoclet (1911) by Hoffmann

Image source: by bianca.maggio

About His Style

From architecture to product design, he was the art director of many influential projects of the modern movement. Hoffmann’s particular style and preference for clear lines are evident in all of Wiener Werkstätte‘s designs from the early 1900s, which emphasized the use of simple shapes such as squares and circles. With his sophisticated austerity, Josef Hoffmann quickly became Vienna’s most popular architect, incorporating a revolutionary minimalist style and ditching the floral embellishments and frills of the then-popular Art Nouveau.

Bruxelles - Palais Stoclet: A large, simplistic bulidng with green metal accents, three floors and a tower in the center.
Stoclet House

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

Bruxelles - Palais Stoclet: Zoomed in photo of the top of the tower. The green statue details can be seen along the top.
Palais Stoclet

Image source: by corno.fulgur75

His Major Architecture Works

  • Stoclet House: The masterpiece built between 1905 and 1911 for the financier and art dealer Adolphe Stoclet in Avenue de Tervueren / Tervurenlaan in Brussels, Belgium.
  • Sanatorium Purkersdorf: It was the first great work of Hoffmann that he built on the outskirts of Vienna. Additionally, the structure was a big step towards abstraction and an escape from traditional arts and crafts and historicism. It served as an important precedent and source of inspiration for modern 20th century architecture. Further, it had the clarity, simplicity, and logic that Neue Sachlichkeit predicted.
Sanatorium Purkersdorf in Vienna: photo of a large white buliding with three floors.
Sanatorium Purkersdorf in Vienna
The Sanatorium Purkersdorf- Garden side entrance.: An additional photo of the structure that is zoomed in on the garden entrance.
The Sanatorium Purkersdorf – Garden side entrance.

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  • Palais Stoclet: Hoffmann was commissioned to build in Brussels from 1905 to 1911. Stoclet House is a masterpiece of Secession Style and an example of Gesamtkunstwerk, replete with murals in the dining room by Klimt and four copper figures on the tower by Franz Metzner.
  • Austrian pavilions:Hoffmann designed these for the 1914 Deutscher Werkbund Exhibition in Cologne and the 1934 Venice Biennale. Then in 1920, he was appointed city architect of Vienna, and in 1924 and 1925 he carried out various housing projects for the city.
Austria Pavillion by Hoffmann: A large, simplistic structure with light materials and two-tiered windows along the top.
Austria Pavillion by Hoffmann

Image source: by Thomas Ledl

Hoffmann also created furniture and other home commodities, where were handcrafted and mass-produced.

His Major Furniture Works

  • Highback Chair (1904)
  • Purkersdorf Poltrona (1904)
  • Sitzmaschine Poltrona (1905)
  • Kunstschau Poltrona (1905)
  • Palazzo Stoclet Poltrona (1905-1910)
  • Fledermaus Chair (1907)
  • Siebenkugelstuhl Chair (1908)
  • Armloffel Chair (1908)
  • Kubus Poltrona (1910)
  • Club Poltrona (1910)
  • Haus Koller Chair (1911)
Kubus sofa: A mid-sized dark grey sofa with bubble-like cushions.
Kubus sofa

Image source: by Wikidapit

Sitzmaschine Armchair (1905) -Josef Hoffmann: A dark wood armchair with two by nine holes along the back.
Sitzmaschine Armchair (1905) Hoffmann

Image source: by dalbera

Highback Chair, J. Hoffmann, 1904, Museum of Modern Art.
Highback Chair (1904) by Hoffmann

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